I’d never join a cult, I go to IHOP

Three years ago I spoke with a guy who was an IHOP intern – great guy. He loved the Lord and thought he was making a great decision by pulling up stakes, packing his bags and moving to Kansas City in hopes of becoming that much closer to Jesus.  We’ll call him ‘Jesse’.

One evening, Jesse’s father began researching the school his son had decided to attend.  Google’s a marvelous tool.  He got on the web and typed in the word ‘IHOP’.  Not only did he see the flowing accounts about the place written by IHOP itself, but he also began to see other websites mentioning the word ‘cult’.  He was intrigued and so began reading.  He told me that he’d hit about a dozen sites when his ‘intrigue’ turned to ‘concern’.  So he called his son, now in Kansas City.  Jesse seemed to be the same old Jesse over the phone and said, “Dad, don’t worry about it. This is a great place.”  The matter was dropped.

Approximately 6 months later, Jesse came home for Christmas.  By this time, Dad had done 6 months of steady investigation of IHOP, its ‘prophets’, current leaders, teachers and policies.  After he’d settled in, Dad and Jesse had a long, long talk.  Jesse had glowing accounts of the entire ministry, but there was something missing.  He was speaking volumes about Mike Bickle, the classes, the other teachers, leaders, the many prophecies he’d heard and friends he’d made but not much was said about the Lord…  There seemed to be something lacking according to the father’s report.

Eventually this loving father gave me a call with Jesse on another line.  (Dad and I had already spoken over the phone prior to this.)  There was no point in trying to dispute IHOP teachings as IHOP interns are told and taught that people outside of IHOP do not understand, and that IHOP is not like ‘regular demoninational churches’ but rather, directly in God’s will..after all, they are ‘forerunners’.  Anyone outside of IHOP is, therefore, on the outside looking in.

After briefly talking about Jesus’ attributes and how great it was to get into indepth Bible study, the question was asked, “Tell me Jesse, are you practicing contemplative prayer?”

There was a long silence before he replied, “They’ve taught that.”  (He would not answer the question.)

“Jesse, contemplative prayer is not scriptural. Oh sure, you can take a scripture like ‘Be still and know that I am God’ and say that it “backs up” contemplative prayer scripturally, but God isn’t complicated.  He doesn’t use his Word like a jigsaw puzzle that we have to take apart and then put back together before we can know what it means.  No, instead He tells us that we’re to come as a little child into His presence.  Jesus Himself gave His disciples an example of how our prayers should be.  If contemplative prayer was and is the correct way to go into God’s presence, then why didn’t Jesus teach that to His disciples?”

Jesse remained silent.

We discussed the warnings given to believers in the New Testament about the deception that would occur in the last days prior to His return.  About how easy it would be for believers in Christ to be deceived unless they were grounded in God’s Word and unless they were en gaurd.  That if it were possible it would deceive even the very elect…

We then discussed familiar spirits, false prophecies, false prophets, lying divination, occult, transcendental meditation and again, contemplative prayer.  Somewhere in this conversation, Jesse has a breakthrough when God removed the scales from his eyes at least in a small, small way. 

Jesse’s final words on our talk?  “I don’t think I’m going back.” 

Months later, the father shared with me that Jesse had indeed not returned to IHOP.  He had instead started attending university and was in the process of completing his college education.  So we know from this story that it’s not impossible to leave IHOP and we know that God is definitely good.

For the IHOP interns that travel these many blogs, please know that you’re in a place where God truly does not want you to be.  Speaking of spiritual matters, no matter how good something may feel, there is never a guarantee that it is.  Know that unless something is backed scripturally, where you’ve seen it with your own two eyes, it is not of God.  Again be reminded that God’s Word is not a jigsaw puzzle.  There are not secret, hidden meanings that need to be explained to you by any one person or teacher.

Lastly, any place or institution that causes you to become separated from your family or friends who disagree with you, is not a godly institution. Remember ‘Love your brother as yourself’? or ‘Honor thy mother and thy father..’  Any group that has you relying on your experiences as proof of God’s presence is not a godly institution.  Our mortal flesh will eventually wither and die and our hearts can easily be deceived if we don’t guard our hearts and minds with God’s Word.

Don’t be like one of those in scripture who said, “Lord, didn’t we prophecy in Your name? Didn’t we cast out devils in Your name?”  They truly thought they were walking hand-in-hand with God and doing His will.  They were sadly mistaken.


21 thoughts on “I’d never join a cult, I go to IHOP”

  1. As long as you’re contemplating God, and not practicing contemplation like the New Agers, there’s nothing wrong with contemplating God and his incarnation, passion and resurrection. But checking out IHOP, I agree, it’s new age.

  2. Glenn, I’m hoping to have a 2nd anouncement within the year of another person set free – but he’s been in IHOP for years and there’s IHOP roots that are still being dealt with… It is in God’s hands and no others. But isn’t it great to be able to celebrate those who are set free.

  3. When you say “contemplate God” are you meaning something along the lines of “pondering His goodness” or just “thinking about Him deeply with gratitude”? If so, absolutely yes. I agree.

    Anything that requires repetitive words, controlled breathing, having to be seated or lying down in order to do it.., that’s New Age. That’s contemplative prayer. That’s TM and that’s IHOP.

  4. Para 1, yes, exactly what I’m saying. Most new age contemplative prayer involves contemplating yourself. Chakras, your navel, whatever.
    Para 2, again, agree, mostly. But it depends on what you mean by repetitive words. If you say the Lord’s Prayer 10 times, is that repetitive? Or, as Catholics do, the Hail Mary prayer of Gabriel to Mary? But if you’re talking about mumbling to your self or holding to your secret word to unlock your mind, yes.

    Sharon Lee Gigante is a wonderful resource. She used to be an Abraham ambassador and instructor of a Course in Miracles. Now she’s out of that and exposing New Age stuff. http://www.newagedeception.com.

  5. I’d say that saying the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary’s are indeed repetitive and useless for communication with God, especially prayers directed at Mary – which is heretical

  6. I just want to tell you that everything negative that everyone recently has mentioned and even past is true. I have been part of the internships at IHOP for over 3 years and I do thank God that my family got me out of there. I was not part of the leadership but saw enough to know that there is something wrong with them. I also know that many of the pastors in the area have just had it with Bickle. I went to several churches in the area since I was not getting the Cross message at IHOP it was all about Bob Jones, prophecy and dreams and what they felt the dreams meant and their interpertation of the bible. It was all foolishness I paid alot of money a total of over 18 thousand dollars to that place along with all my tithing….everytime I made some money I would be told to give it away or I would run into classmates that need the money since they had no food. I lived in one of their apartment with 2 bedrooms with 6 adults it was just wrong but I had to I was really not encouraged to be part of the program and live on my own. If you do particular programs you have to live on site. All of it was very controling. Lou Engle is just out there and wacked. I tink there is something seriously wrong with him and everyone that adores him and follows him they don’t even think for themselves they just do what he does. I knew that from the start so I tried to stay away from him, but it is hard since he often preaches. When the awakening happened it was odd too, I think most people knew people were faking it, I even did sometimes since they put the pressure on some of us that we had to feel something. Alot of mind control, not that you had to do something or they would kill you but they would alient you and make you feel like you were s#*&. Very clicky, Not sure if that is how you spell it but so not Jesus at all. I see all that now being in a healthy church and real community. That is another thing no real community in that place. It is like they are all glassy eyed. I was too, just like zombies following eachother round and round and not growing in Christ at all from glory to glory. Lots of money goes into that place thousands and I think probably millions but the kids (us) never saw it and we had to always beg for support. I have been on a mission trip to Africa since returning home and that was like night and day. The mission trips I was on through IHOP was nothing like I was on recently. We were building huts and really slept in the wilderness and were real missionaries at IHOP many even stayed at peoples homes or motels, I did as well everything we needed was provided – nothing like real missions work. Just stupid. I never could see asking for money to pray. I pray more now than I did then and I can’t imagine asking anyone to give me money or support so I can pray, Anna never did that. Why should we. Now I see clearly but I thank my parents for having their heads on straight and pulling me out before it really screwed me up. I challenge anyone that thinks they are not a cult to remove themselves from IHOP for 6 months totally and seek God and His word. He will show you the truth the questions is are you willing to seek the truth?

  7. David,
    IHOP used to have material online re: the correct way to practice contemplative prayer. I don’t know about contemplating your ‘navel’, but according to Mike Bickle, the most effective way to do it is to begin by reciting scripture – a verse, a phrase, a word — do this over and over for 15 – 20 minutes. During this time,. you’re to STOP thinking about any one thing and allow your mind to go into a state of complete nothingness.. a mental void. (I can laughingly say this just happens to be the formula used for TM)

    It makes no difference though. They’re both very occultic, New Age practices and both lead to the same place..

  8. Laura,

    What you described reminded me of a time years ago, when I lived down the street, from a house full of Moonies. They too just followed their leader, doing what he did and not thinking for themselves. They were also ‘all glassy eyed’ so I know where you’re coming from.

    My deepest desire regarding IHOP is that it would soon fall apart and dismantle, causing everyone to go back to their homes. Wouldn’t that be absolutely lovely. I’m very glad you’re out. Please keep writing into various blogs voicing your experiential thoughts and opinions. After all, EXPERIENCE carries a LOT of weight – even (and maybe especially) to the IHOP interns who happen by these many blogs which are exposing their alma mater for what it is – heresy/garbage.

  9. p.s. I’m very grateful to God that He got you out of IHOP. Take as many opportunities as you can to tell/warn others.

  10. I was feeling disconnected from my spiritual life when I was in college. I kept praying to Lord Jesus to help me find a way to reconnect to the Holy Spirit and to love life again. In my innocence a friend introduced me to Transcendental Meditation or TM. Nothing was required of me to learn other then to close my eyes and effortlessly take my attention inward to the calm, quiet of the source of my thoughts.

    I was never asked to follow any guru, ignore my Christian religion, or take on any code of do’s and don’ts. But to get the results of a calm, clear mind and a happier, more creative personality, you had to meditate every day. So I did just that, and the best part is I discovered a deeper love of Christ and of my fellow man. I also became very successful in business and happily married. I have meant many Christians who meditate. They don’t hate people, but are calm and compassionate.

    I have no idea what IHOP besides a place to eat pancakes, but TM has nothing to do with it.

  11. “Nothing was required of me to learn other than to close my eyes and effortlessly take my attention inward to the calm, quiet of the source of my thoughts.”

    James, what you’ve described is not real TM…. this is from wikipedia:

    Transcendental Meditation (TM) refers to the Transcendental Meditation technique,[1] a specific form of mantra meditation, and to the Transcendental Meditation movement, a spiritual movement.[2][3] The TM technique and TM movement were introduced in India in the mid-1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1914–2008) and had reached global proportions by the 1960s.

    James, it sounds like you’re calming yourself and looking within…. and not chanting mantras etc. At any rate, let me say this – if you’re focusing your attention ‘inward’ then you’re looking to James – to yourself. You’re focusing your thoughts to ‘the god within’ which, similar to contemplative prayer or TM, is something that feels so, so good – but if you are truly a believer in Christ Jesus, then you are practicing something that is totally and completely unscriptural no matter how good it feels.

    Besides that, you said, “I kept praying to Lord Jesus to help me find a way to reconnect to the Holy Spirit and to love life again.” James, you and many others are suffering from what I call “Instant Pudding Syndrome”. That desperate feeling where We want it! and We want it NOW! I can hear the sincerity in your thoughts – you truly did want to feel good about living again, but your friend gave you the “instant pudding” answer. i.e. a form of meditation that is both unbiblical and very anti-biblically based.

  12. Joshua 1:8
    Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

    Psalm 1:2
    But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

    Psalm 48:9
    Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.

    Psalm 77:12
    I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.

    Psalm 119:15
    I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.

    Psalm 145:5
    They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

    Psalm 119:148
    My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.

    Psalm 119:18
    Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

    Proverbs 25:2
    It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

    1 Corinthians 2:6-16
    6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:
    “No eye has seen,
    no ear has heard,
    no mind has conceived
    what God has prepared for those who love him”[b]—

    10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

    The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.[c] 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:

    16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord
    that he may instruct him?”[d]

    But we have the mind of Christ.

    Jeremiah 33:3
    3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

    Romans 11:33-34
    33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
    34Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?

    Psalm 145:3
    Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.

  13. And your point being is what? Try to remember that Contemplative prayer can only be effective if the mind is made completely e m p t y. BLANK. You can say you’re contemplating God all you want, but in order to have CP really “work” the way it’s meant to is only by emptying your mind completely.

  14. All the “mysteries” we need to know are in God’s Word ALREADY. “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, those who hope in His mercy.” And guess what? He doesn’t charge a dime! You don’t have to go any further than HIS Word to find out everything “pertaining to life and Godliness.” That is why we are to meditate on HIS WORD day and night. It is the HOLY SPIRIT that leads us into ALL TRUTH, and brings all things to our rememberance. The Bible says “no prophesy is of any private interpretation.” This Bickle guy is claiming to be an “Apostle” like John in Revelations, and speaks of making trips to Heaven, going through his ceiling, getting further revelations while in Heaven, and coming back through his ceiling, falling to his bed. OK, first the REAL Apostle John warned us that if ANYONE adds to the words of this book, the plagues will be added to him, and he followed that up by stating that ANYONE who takes away from the words of this book, HIS name will be blotted out of the Book of Life. Get to know your Bible WELL and you will know absolutely EVERYTHING you need to, and need never be taken in by the ravening wolves which the Bible states WILL come in the last days. (disguised as sheep none the less).

  15. PREACH ON, SISTER! God warned us about the terrible deception that would come in the last days. I truly believe that we are living them.

  16. Wow, this is all quite interesting from all of you guys. I have been to ihop, both KC & ATL. I have never been taught anything outside of the scriptures. Mediation is biblical (read psalms), because eastern religion perverted it and made it about self does not make meditation on the word of God cultic – you get more revelation when you meditate/ponder deeply in silence as opposed to reading on the fly.
    I have been taught about the cross, the purposes of God in and through scriptures.
    List all the teachings that are not scriptural coming out of KC & ATL, not just random things others with hidden agendas/vendettas. have written.
    I’ve heard and read Mike Bickle teach that if anything he or another leader
    Teaches at Ihop is not found in the bible, you can throw them ou,
    Also I’ve heard him teach often that whenever people hear teachings
    That may maybe others are not, it makes them sort of an elite spirit
    On them, he goes out of his way to address that this is opposite of
    Jesus and he and other leaders are in no way interested in that.
    Prayer, fasting, the cross, personal holiness, pursuin purity, a love for God and his word with the emphasis
    On doing the word (caring for the orphans, widows, giving to the poor etc)
    Understand prophetic scriptures, even Song of Songs/Solomon are very

    I just felt the need to say this, because I read all what everyone
    But I’m sad to say none of this is the truth.

    I disagree, but I still love you.

  17. “List all the teachings that are not scriptural coming out of KC & ATL, not random things others with hidden agendas/vendettas.”

    How about Contemplative prayer, Luken? Let’s start there. Instead of tackling them “all”, just show me where that particular one is listed in scripture. Mike Bickle is a huge advocate of contemplative. So where is it?

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